Gloria Allred: Whitman knew housekeeper was illegal

September 30, 2010 12:52:16 AM PDT
California gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman is accused of knowingly hiring a housekeeper in this country illegally.

In Tuesday's debate, the Republican candidate took a strong stand on illegal immigration and today attorney Gloria Allred accused her of knowingly hiring an undocumented housekeeper.

In front of a room full of cameras in Los Angeles, Allred and Whitman's former housekeeper, Nicandra Diaz Santillan, told the story of what she says happened when she confessed to her employer that she was in the country illegally.

"And then I said, Meg please can you help me, and she was very upset and she said, 'No, and you don't know me and I have never seen you, and you have never seen me.' She yelled, 'Understand me,'" Diaz Santillan said.

Allred, a supporter of Whitman's rival, Democratic candidate Jerry Brown, said Whitman overworked and underpaid the housekeeper for nine years.

Whitman told reporters in San Jose she had every reason to believe her housekeeper was legal.

"All the documentation that we had said that she was legal. She had a 1099 on file with the employment agency, drivers' license, Social Security card," she said.

Whitman's campaign supplied a copy of the employment agency application, with Santillan's name and a Social Security number.

"I feel badly for her, you know she's being manipulated, I think, and I'm sorry about that. She's the nicest woman," she said.

Whitman says she never knew until last June that Santillan was in the country illegally.

Allred quoted from a letter she says was sent to Whitman by the Social Security Administration, which asked the former eBay CEO to clarify her housekeeper's legal status.

"Ask the employee to give you the name and Social Security number exactly as it appears on the Social Security card, and it goes on to say employer is required to return the letter in the enclosed envelope," she read.

Whitman denied receiving any letter, but if it turns out she got one it could be very bad for her. Brown is already piling on and released a statement saying, "After more than a year of Whitman demanding immigration policy that holds employers accountable, we learn that accountability doesn't extend to her own actions."

If Whitman's version of the story holds up, this could backfire on Brown and might look like a political smear by one of Brown's supporters.


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